Friday, February 19, 2010

The Final Decline of the West is Nigh - Dominique Moisi

My attention was grabbed by the highlighted paragraph. It may sound far fetched but the paragraph kind of accentuate my belief that a very structured force is meddling in the affairs of Asian and Middle East countries to ensure 'power/dominance' [I lack proper word here] when the time comes.

World Order, Village Elders, Tungsten-rigged-gold-bars ... smells fishy!

[Article from here]


IN 2040/2050, will demographers speak of "the white man's loneliness", in the way historians once referred to "the white man's burden" to describe the so-called "imperial responsibilities" of some European nations?
Demography is not an exact science. Countless dire predictions, from that of Malthus to that of the Club of Rome, have been proven wrong. But, according to a recent and very convincing essay published in the magazine Foreign Affairs, a dual demographic and economic trend is taking place that will result in spectacular shifts by the middle of this century.

The Western world will represent only 12 per cent of the world's population, with Europeans reduced to six per cent. (In 1913, a year before the outbreak of World War 1, Europe was slightly more populated than China.)

Economically, the West will account for around 30 per cent of global output -- a level that corresponds to Europe's share in the 18th century, and down from 68 per cent in 1950.

What we are witnessing can be seen is a return to the past, with the West returning to its old place in the world before the start of China's long process of historical decline at the beginning of the 19th century. The West's long period of global dominance is ending, encouraged and accelerated by its own mistakes and irresponsible behaviour.

We are entering a new historical cycle, in which there will be proportionally fewer Westerners, more Africans and Middle Easterners, and -- with greater relevance economically and strategically -- many more Asians.

It is with these figures in mind that one must consider Barack Obama's decision not to attend the next European-American summit that was due to take place in Madrid in May. It would be tempting to use a formula coined during the Cold War to describe the comparative evolution of the United States and the Soviet Union and to apply the notion of "competitive decline" to the relationship between the US and Europe.

An America that may be undergoing a process of relative if not absolute decline chooses to ignore a Europe that in US eyes is no longer a problem compared with Asia or the Middle East, and that offers little help in finding solutions to the problems that most vex Americans.

In a hasty and excessively provocative manner, some in the American media are starting to speak of Obama as "a second Jimmy Carter" and predict that he will serve only one term. What is more serious is the impression that the American political system, with its inability to transcend party divisions and forge national consensus, is increasingly sclerotic.

America's political institutions have aged like the country's infrastructure. They were devised more than two centuries ago for a mostly agrarian world. Today, they need to be amended and rejuvenated. But that may not be possible, given the sacrosanctity with which many Americans regard the US constitution.

As for the European Union, the problem is not what will not happen in Madrid. The EU's problem is much more what happened in Copenhagen last December at the summit to "save the planet", or what is taking place before our eyes with the challenge to the euro posed by the weakness of some of its member states, most prominently Greece.

In Copenhagen, Europe came with a common and responsible position. The EU was "showing the way" to other great actors and behaved as the "good pupil" of the world class. The Union was ignored, with the US and China choosing to disagree over its head. Europe must realise that it cannot be seen as a model for anyone if no one any longer takes it seriously as a global actor.

But how can you be taken seriously by others if you do not take yourself seriously? The EU's new High Representative for External Affairs, Baroness Catherine Ashton, tried to justify her failure to go to Haiti in the immediate aftermath of its terrible earthquake by saying: "I am neither a nurse nor a fire person."

Lack of such skills did not keep US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from travelling to the scene of the devastation to show her support and concern.

Confronted with revolutionary demographic and economic transformations, Americans and Europeans should behave in a much more responsible manner. Instead of ignoring the other (the American way) or lamenting a wounded ego (the European way), they should confront the common challenges they face as a result of a globalisation process that they are no longer able to master. -- Project Syndicate

The writer is a visiting professor at Harvard University

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Tyger

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? What the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
(William Blake 1794)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


        ladies of Class '77 all decked out in bling blings

AKSHAH 2010 took place on 6th February at Dewan Sri Siantan, Kompleks Perbadanan Putrajaya. The administrative capital of the country. I have never been to Putrajaya since it became operative [I don't even know what year]. 

Lots of different opinions regarding the event. First of, it was supposed to be graced by DYMM Sultan of Pahang. Due to "unforeseen circumstances", an ex cabinet minister came instead. I was all geared in bling bling to serenade his royal highness "again" after TAHAP Silver Jubilee  [then I didn't get to do any bling bling because I had to put on a 'uniform' on that day]. Such a wet blanket! Ha ha ha !!!

Some questioned the rational of having a has been personality. 

Others on the ground that EXSAS should be kept apolitical.

Whatever justification dished out, it will not satisfy everyone.

There were areas which could do with some fine tuning but then, I know I could not have done a better job. 

Considering that not many members could afford to get their feet wet with the voluntary organising works, I personally feel the president and his committee members have done their best and the Fat Lady sang.

   The Fat Lady singing ASMARA with a live band

Taking for granted that I would be able to get the event on video later, I did not make any personal arrangement to have my moment on the stage, shot. Hmm ... what a pity! I only have this video of the final rehearsal done with a mobile phone by mrmasha. Tq Masha for posting it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Single's shingles

I have been having weird pain in my eye and on the left side of my head since last week. Last Friday,after coming back from Kuantan Specialist Hospital I woke up with a strange bump on the left of my forehead. It started to itch and soon my left eyebrow started to feel strange too. Tingling burning itch which made me rubbed it raw. Then the tinglings travelled into my hairline and started itching terribly. At times it felt like some minute worms were burrowing deep into the skull especially under the eyebrow. My eyes started turning red and began to itch. the eyelid started drooping. The bump on the forehead became bigger, harder and redder. My whole body especially my back and waist ached badly.

On Saturday a lump appeared under each ear. Hard and painful to the touch. My left ear itched terribly and painful to touch along the temple. My eyes felt burning like I was having a bad fever. My breath hot. No fever. I lazed in bed the whole day just getting up to put the washing in the machine and taking it out to hang.

On Sunday I had to attend a rehearsal in KL. It ended early so I let my son took me to watch Avatar 3D. The movie started at 9.00 pm and there was about three hours to kill. Felt like I was coming down with a flu. Throat started getting tight and itchy. 

Killed the hours at a karaoke joint in the Curve. Didn't really enjoy it because my throat was getting funny. Pitching went all over the place !!!

The movie was very engaging but my skull was burning with itch. I thought it was the head scarf because I had worn it since early morning. 

The movie finished at midnight. My son drove me home. I fell asleep all the way.

Reached home about 2.00 am. Took a quick shower and tried to sleep. The itch  on the head and on the eyebrow was very disturbing. Didn't know what time I fell asleep but woke up at almost eight. School started at 7.30.

Buzy the whole morning and afternoon. Friends noticed the bump on my forehead, the red eye and droopy eyelid . Getting breathless trying to catch up with things. Was absent from work since Monday, taking Baba to the surgeon.

Class finished at 4.30 pm. Rushed home and collapsed on the sofa. No fever, just pain and burning sensation where it itched. Fell into a long nap.

Had trouble sleeping at night because of the long nap in the late afternoon. Went to bed in the wee hour of the morning. The neighbour's rooster had started to crow. About 5.00 am, woke up to a bout of violent dry cough, splitting headache and burning left eye.

Sent SMS to boss 'coz I could not go to work and then went back to bed. About eleven, went to see a doctor. Diagnosis - SHINGLES ! Asked the doctor when it will peak. Answer - within three to five days ! 

OMG !!! !!! !!!

That would be Saturday the sixth.

Saturday is D DAY I have been rehearsing for.

Been waiting for Saturday the sixth since last year.

Asked the doctor if acyclovir would make any difference. Yes it would but had to get it myself as the clinic doesn't stock it. 800mg 5x per day.

The pharmacy only have 200mg Zovirax. They do have the 800mg tablet produce of Balakong at less than quarter of the price of the imported product from GlaxoSmithKline Australia.

I chose to save my intelligence on the guesses. I opted for the original produce. I don't usually mind the generic ones but in this instance, I can't afford to be patriotic.

Search on google returned many links. One of them is this:-
Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a very common painful, blistering viral rash. Shingles is caused by reactivation of the chickenpox virus called varicella zoster virus (VZV). Shingles occurs in people who have previously been infected with the chickenpox virus at some point in their lives. Shingles usually occurs as a unilateral pain, burning, or tingling and blistering rash extending in a local pattern in the distribution of nerves. Common areas affected by shingles include the face, abdomen, back, buttocks, and chest. Red, itchy patches form across these areas and become small blisters that may be similar in appearance to chickenpox. The rash begins to clear after the blisters break and dry into scabs within two to three weeks.
Once people have had a single bout of chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in the nerve roots near the spinal cord or base of the facial nerve. It is thought that when a person has a weakened immune system or when their immunity to the varicella virus is diminished the virus can reactivate to inflame a nerve and cause shingles. Although shingles may happen at any age, it is most common in the fifth through sixth decades of life. Typically, shingles usually occurs most commonly in adults over the age of 60 or in those who are immunosuppressed (HIVAIDS, or cancer patients).
Most people only get shingles once in their life. While it is not impossible to get shingles more than once, a recurrence is unlikely.

Shingles is often a severely painful skin condition. Some people may have pain in the general area days to weeks before the onset of the blisters. The most important clue to shingles diagnosis is unilateral pain and blisters on the skin. A typical shingles eruption never crosses the midline of the body and occurs only on one side: right or left. Extremely rare cases of shingles may become diffuse and spread to the entire body in patients with very compromised immune systems.
Common symptoms experienced with shingles include flu-like symptoms such as chills, fever, and fatigue, along with abdominal and back pain when those skin dermatomes are involved. In some cases when the virus has affected the facial area, people can experience loss of eye motion, drooping eyelids, taste problems, facial pain, headache, and hearing loss.
Effective treatments are available to help lessen the impact of shingles. For best prognosis and fastest recovery, early start of oral antiviral pills is most important. All shingles cases will eventually resolve with or without treatment.
Treatment started at the earliest stage of symptoms is helpful in shortening the duration and severity of the symptoms. Oral antihistamines like Benadryl may be used for itching, as well as oatmeal baths and calamine lotion. Analgesic medications like ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), Tylenol, or Vicodin can be used for severe pain.
The most difficult complication of shingles tends to be the residual pain that may last in the area for months or years. Chronic pain lasting more than six weeks after the onset of shingles is called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). Antiviral medications including acyclovir (Zovirax), if given within the first 48-72 hours of the occurrence of symptoms, can help reduce the length and severity of postherpetic neuralgia. 
Shingles is generally not contagious to those who have had chickenpox. Rarely, it may cause problems in pregnant women, infants, immunocompromised individuals, or people who have never had chickenpox. Touching the blisters or blister fluid may cause transmission of the varicella virus.
Varicella zoster virus is not "curable" because the virus stays dormant in the body for life. Once someone is initially exposed to the varicella virus, immunity develops that generally prevents a second bout of typical chickenpox. However, this immunity may fade over time, making older adults more prone to a later onset of a limited recurrence of the chickenpox virus as shingles.
Testing for shingles may include viral cultures, Tzanck prep (microscopic exam and staining of skin), and blood testing for titers of antibodies to the varicella virus.
Shingles prevention steps include vaccination. There is a U.S. FDA-approved vaccine (Zostavax) for adults 60 years of age and older to help lessen the risk of shingles. Zostavax is a live attenuated vaccine and therefore carries a small risk of shingles when administered. There is also a U.S. FDA-approved chickenpox vaccine called Varivax which is used primarily in a single dose for children between 12-18 months of age or older who have not had chickenpox. [source here]
Hmmm ... I am marking my fifth decade with shingles.
I am single and I have shingles.
That is loads of PAIN.